We had driven by the neon lights reading “chowder house” for years. Wedged in between other small establishments on the east side of Lower Greenville, it just took us a while to finally stop in. Finally, a recent Saturday night presented us with a free schedule and a reminder to check out Dallas’ Daddy Jack’s.
Not surprisingly, we had to delay before walking through the front door, which led to two swinging doors that folded out into the small, packed dining room.
A woman, who is clearly accustomed to being in charge of the front of the house here, told us it would be 45 minutes. As she took our name, I looked around for a bar, a place to sit, a place to loiter. Nothing. Our option, she said, was to go next door to the Crown and Harp, a name I only recollected as some joint that has karaoke.
We walked over to this establishment, which had to be just barely smaller than its restaurant neighbor, and had a couple of drinks. (They do proudly pour a worthy Lakewood Brewery wheat from the tap.)
Our waitress was over fast enough, offering us a list of specials and the restaurant’s “famous crab fingers.” While sounding passionate enough about the paella, these little crab claws soaking in a butter were something this woman seemed to already assume we’d order. Of course, we did.
The small plate came out, presenting these oily little claws, limping in an oil that proved to have a welcomed, copious amount of garlic. But, any chef can throw a bunch of garlic in some oil and let crab claws sit. These were fine, but not the “most amazing thing,” as I heard our waitress also tell the table next to us. Maybe had their been less hype, there would have been less disappointment in this average appetizer.
What is worth skipping the crab fingers here for are the soups. The New England clam chowder is hearty with plenty of chunks of clam and aromatic with generous flavors of rosemary. The lobster bisque is smooth and just rich enough, seeming to get more savory with each spoonful.
For our main course, I asked our waitress if I should go with the special seafood paella or the plate of the small surf and turf. I neglected the fact that she recommended the pricier dish, but really, this wasn’t an average surf and turf. The small lobster tail was heavily seasoned but perfectly balanced when dipped in butter. The small filet was a cut of meat so tender that any person would be smart to order beef in this seafood spot.
While this plate was fine, another was superb. The lobster Fra Diavlo here starts with an ambitiously sized plate filled with linguini.
Then, there’s half a lobster, clams, mussels and shrimp. But what makes this dish one to crave is the spicy marinara in which it all drowns. It never runs out of flavor. If it were pasta and sauce alone, a diner would be in heaven. The added bonus of some shellfish helps; unfortunately, the lobster was a bit overcooked, clearly tougher than the lobster tail sitting on the surf and turf plate.
There was no need, but our persuasive – and incredibly friendly – waitress convinced us to indulge a few bites further. The key lime pie was worth it. A crumbly crust topped with a smooth, light tart was a perfect end to this evening.
Location: 1916 Greenville Ave. in Dallas, 75206, 214-826-4910
Hours: 5:30 to 10 .m. Monday through Thursday, 5:30 to 11 p.m. Friday through Saturday, 5:30 to 9:30 p.m. Sunday
Service: Extremely friendly and knowledgable
Ambiance: Intimate and dark, the low lighting seems to reflect a red atmosphere from the checkered tables
Payment information: All major credit cards accepted
Alcohol: Beer and wine